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The Magician King: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 9, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: This second volume in Lev Grossman’s celebrated series picks up just after the events of its 2009 prequel The Magicians. Quentin, Eliot, Janet, and Julia are now the High Kings and Queens of Fillory, a fantastic realm not unlike Narnia, and they pass their days “deliquescing atom by atom amid a riot of luxury.” To ease his royal boredom, Quentin embarks on a quest with Julia. Despite his romantic visions of heroic feats and easy accolades, the quest goes horribly awry, and they find themselves back in the depressingly real world of Chesterton, Massachusetts. With the help of seedy underground magicians, a dragon, and a young boy named Thomas, they undertake a desperate journey back to Fillory. Grossman’s writing here is sharp and self-aware, and the characters feel like people you actually know, but cooler: they are delightfully profane and dripping with irony, they are arrogant and shallow, they are finding their way in a magically perfect world that somehow still lets them down, and they are learning to fight for the things they love. The Magician King is a triumph of (and an homage to) modern fantasy writing, and a must-read for grown-up fans of Narnia and Harry Potter. --Juliet Disparte
“[A] serious, heartfelt novel [that] turns the machinery of fantasy inside out.”
—The New York Times (Editor’s Choice)
“A spellbinding stereograph, a literary adventure novel that is also about privilege, power, and the limits of being human. The Magician King is a triumphant sequel.”
“[The Magician King] is The Catcher in the Rye for devotees of alternative universes. It’s dazzling and devil-may-care. . . . Grossman has created a rare, strange, and scintillating novel.”
“The Magician King is a rare achievement, a book that simultaneously criticizes and celebrates our deep desire for fantasy.”
—The Boston Globe
“Grossman has devised an enchanted milieu brimming with possibility, and his sly authorial voice gives it a literary life that positions The Magician King well above the standard fantasy fare.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Grossman expands his magical world into a boundless enchanted universe, and his lively characters navigate it with aplomb.”
—The New Yorker
“Grossman is brilliant at creating brainy, distinct, flawed, complex characters, and nearly as good at running them through narrative gauntlets that inventively tweak the stories that generations have grown up on.”
—The Portland Oregonian
“The Magician King, the immensely entertaining new novel by Lev Grossman, manages to be both deep and deeply enjoyable.”
“Readers who have already enjoyed The Magicians should lose no time in picking up The Magician King. For those who haven’t, read both books: Grossman’s work is solid, smart, and engaging adult fantasy.”
—The Miami Herald
“Now that Harry Potter is through in books and films, grown-up fans of the boy wizard might want to give this nimble fantasy series a try.”
—New York Post
“Lev Grossman’s The Magician King is a fresh take on the fantasy-quest novel—dark, austere, featuring characters with considerable psychological complexity, a collection of idiosyncratic talking animals (a sloth who knows the path to the underworld, a dragon in the Grand Canal), and splendid set pieces in Venice, Provence, Cornwall, and Brooklyn.”
—The Daily Beast
“In this page-turning follow-up to his bestselling 2009 novel The Magicians, Grossman takes another dark, sarcastically sinister stab at fantasy, set in the Narnia-esque realm of Fillory.”
“The Magician King is clearly the middle book in a trilogy, but it’s that rare creature that bridges the gap between tales and still stands on its own. And just as the first book showed that growing up is hard no matter how much power you have, it shows that becoming an adult involves far more than just reaching the right age.”
—The A.V. Club
“Fabulous fantasy spiked with bitter adult wisdom—not to be missed.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Fans of The Magicians will find this sequel a feast and will be delighted that a jaw-dropping denouement surely promises a third volume to come.”
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I have a couple of friends who say they don't like the series because the narrator is "a whiner." I don't really understand this complaint: I have not tended to feel the need to love my protagonists. And I'd argue that one of the greatest fantasy series of all time is E. Nesbit's "The Five Children and It" series, narrated by a spectacularly pompous, self-satisfied young man named Oswald. As with Quentin -- the narrator of the "Magicians" series -- Oswald's heart is in the right place, but he is delightfully irritating. And the books would not be nearly so satisfying if the narrator were NOT so irritating, if he were less self-absorbed, more aware of his own fallibility, etc. Because in his irritatingness, he -- both he's -- is LIKE US. He's human. And that both makes his foibles funnier and gives his tragedies some real emotional weight.
I love the world building expansion that this second entry gets. Not only Fillory, but the whole of the worlds that Quentin, and company encounter. Tied in with the world building, is the great mythology that Grossman is plotting here. It is fascinating and wholly original!
I have read a lot of different fantasy series's. The Magician's is a unique entry into the genre. The closest comparison I can give is Stephen King's Dark Tower. Yet even that connection is very light. One of the things that helps me love this series so much, is how different it is. I have read a lot of the bad reviews, and the one complaint that can not be made is that this series is cookie cutter. This is one of the most original pieces of fiction I have ever experienced.
My biggest complaint for this book, and really the series on the whole, is that the main characters aren't exactly lovable. I like Quentin okay but not in the way I do with most series, I fall in love with. I think this more than anything, is what turns most people of. Even though he may not be my favorite, I still found myself having an emotional reaction to something done to him late. So while I wouldn't like to be his friend, I still feel and cheer for him.
I would recommend this book to those that have read a lot of fantasy and are looking for something new. This series just fascinates me.
I like this book much better than the first book. Quinton is older and the story has lost the comparison to Harry Potter and Narnia that the first book had. This protagonist has grown and matured.
He spends a lot of time being flung unexpectedly out of Fillory and trying to find his way back into the magic land. In his quest for seven keys, he seems to spend as much time out of Fillory as in it. While out of Fillory his path crosses once again with Julia. She has spent her time becoming a master hedge witch and her magic skills are equal to Quinton. She has her own regrets. She spends time with Free Trader Beowulf with tragic results.
She helps Quinton complete the quest for the keys, but the result is what neither of them expect.
Along the way, in interstitial chapters, we learn the back story of Julia. Denied entry into Brakebills, but remembering instead of forgetting, she charts her own course into the world of magic. And it is a far darker and more gritty journey than Quentin took. With far greater loss and heartbreak.
With extraordinary skill Grossman narrates a story that is best enjoyed if you are an adult and have lived a bit of a life already. This isn't a childhood journey of childhood discovery. This is instead more of a bildungsroman, where both Quentin and Julia complete spiritual journeys and we are invited along for the ride. Shotgun!
Most recent customer reviews
When I read the first book in this series, The Magicians, I gave this series the benefit of...Read more